Imprisoned elderly Jesuit defended indigenous land rights in India

By Barbara Fraser
National Catholic Reporter
October 28, 2020

An 83-year-old Jesuit priest imprisoned in India on accusations of terrorism has been targeted because of his defense of indigenous people's land rights, church and human rights leaders say.

Fr. Stan Swamy, who is from India's Jamshedpur province, has worked among indigenous people, known collectively in India as Adivasi, for four decades. The Adivasi and Dalits, or “untouchables,” are mainly subsistence farmers and are generally the poorest and most marginalized people in India, Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj, head of the Jesuits' international Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology in Rome, told EarthBeat.

In a country that still adheres to a strict caste system, Swamy has defended the land rights of Adivasi people who have been threatened or forced from their homes by mining, industrial agriculture and large-scale infrastructure projects.

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